Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/gmd-2020-302
https://doi.org/10.5194/gmd-2020-302

Submitted as: model description paper 27 Nov 2020

Submitted as: model description paper | 27 Nov 2020

Review status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal GMD.

SPEAD 1.0 – A model for Simulating Plankton Evolution with Adaptive Dynamics in a two-trait continuous fitness landscape applied to the Sargasso Sea

Guillaume Le Gland1, Sergio M. Vallina2, S. Lan Smith3, and Pedro Cermeño1 Guillaume Le Gland et al.
  • 1Institut de Ciències del Mar (CSIC), Passeig Marítim de la Barceloneta 37-49, 08003 Barcelona, Spain
  • 2Spanish Institute of Oceanography (IEO), Ave Principe de Asturias 70 bis, 33212 Gijon, Spain
  • 3Earth SURFACE Research Center, Research Institute for Global Change, JAMSTEC, Yokosuka, Japan

Abstract. Diversity plays a key role in the adaptive capacities of marine ecosystems to environmental changes. However, modeling phytoplankton trait diversity remains challenging due to the strength of the competitive exclusion of sub-optimal phenotypes. Trait diffusion (TD) is a recently developed approach to sustain diversity in plankton models by allowing the evolution of functional traits at ecological timescales.

In this study, we present a model for Simulating Plankton Evolution with Adaptive Dynamics (SPEAD), where phytoplankton phenotypes characterized by two traits, nitrogen half-saturation constant and optimal temperature, can mutate at each generation using the TD mechanism. SPEAD does not resolve the different phenotypes as discrete entities, computing instead six aggregate properties: total phytoplankton biomass, mean value of each trait, trait variances, and inter-trait covariance of a single population in a continuous trait space. Therefore SPEAD resolves the dynamics of the population's continuous trait distribution by solving its statistical moments, where the variances of trait values represent the diversity of ecotypes. The ecological model is coupled to a vertically-resolved (1D) physical environment, and therefore the adaptive dynamics of the simulated phytoplankton population are driven by seasonal variations in vertical mixing, nutrient concentration, water temperature, and solar irradiance. The simulated bulk properties are validated by observations from BATS in the Sargasso Sea.

We find that moderate mutation rates sustain trait diversity at decadal timescales and soften the almost total inter-trait correlation induced by the environment alone, without reducing the annual primary production or promoting permanently maladapted phenotypes, as occur with high mutation rates. As a way to evaluate the performance of the continuous-trait approximation, we also compare the solutions of SPEAD to the solutions of a classical discrete entities approach, both approaches including TD as a mechanism to sustain trait variance. We only find minor discrepancies between the continuous model SPEAD and the discrete model, the computational cost of SPEAD being lower by two orders of magnitude. Therefore SPEAD should be an ideal eco-evolutionary plankton model to be coupled to a general circulation model (GCM) at the global ocean.

Guillaume Le Gland et al.

 
Status: open (until 31 Jan 2021)
Status: open (until 31 Jan 2021)
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Guillaume Le Gland et al.

Guillaume Le Gland et al.

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Short summary
We present an ecological model called SPEAD where various phytoplankton compete for a nutrient. Phytoplankton in SPEAD is characterized by two continuously distributed traits: optimal temperature and nutrient half-saturation. Trait diversity is sustained by allowing the traits to mutate at each generation. We showed that SPEAD agreed well with a more classical discrete model for only a fraction of its cost. We also identified realistic values for the mutation rates, to be used in future models.